Last Modified: Tuesday, October 16, 2012 5:26 PM
State Constitutional Amendments No. 4-6 — that’s the middle of the batting order on the Nov. 6 ballot — are clear cut.
No. 4 would allow the spouse of a deceased veteran who had a 100 percent service-related disability rating to claim a $150,000 homestead exemption, even if the exemption was not in effect at the time the veteran died.
Voters in 48 parishes approved a 2010 constitutional amendment that allowed veterans with a 100 percent service-related disability to claim the $150,000 home exemption, double the $75,000 exemption that most homeowners are allowed on their property taxes.
Opponents say that if approved, the amendment would result in an expansion of the homestead exemption and further erode the local tax base. Proponents point out that officials have estimated that about 2,000 spouses would be eligible and if they all elected to take it, it would cost about $2 million statewide.
We believe the exemption should be extended to those surviving spouses that qualify and thus, recommend a Yes vote for Amendment No. 4.
Amendment No. 5 would allow the courts to include forfeiture of a portion of public retirement benefits as part of the sentence for a public servant, hired on or after Jan. 1, 2013, who was convicted of a felony related to his or her office. If approved, companion legislation would allow a portion of the retirement benefits to be awarded to a spouse, former spouse or dependent of the convicted public servant.
Some opponents contend that the amendment is not strong enough. But we believe public servants have a sacred trust with the populace and that forfeiture of retirement benefits if they are convicted of a felony they committed to his or her office is a deterrent to such activity. There, we recommend a Yes vote for Amendment No. 5.
Amendment No. 6 would allow the City of New Iberia to grant city property tax exemptions to any property owner whose property was annexed into the city after Jan. 1, 2013.
Absent any pro or con arguments about the intent of amendment, such a narrow proposal that affects a lone city has no business in the state Constitution.
We heartily recommend a No vote on Amendment No. 6.
(Tomorrow: Constitutional Amendments Nos. 7-9.)
This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.